May 2008

Sequencing in Sunny Norway

We’re still having the same beautiful weather and after getting reports of a lot of rain from both Justine in Alberta, CA and Laura in England, I’m very happy to be in Norway this May. I just hope that the rest of our summer will be as good. We had a really nice day yesterday and Karine, Therese and Lene came here to do some agility training. Karine has a sheltie who competes in the highest class and a mudi (hungarian sheepdog) who is the same age as Shejpa and probably will start trialing at the same time as Shejpa (probably in September since that’s the only weekend I have off before November). Therese has a young field bred golden who is one month older than Pi. Lene has a mudi puppy. Training with us was also Nina with her kelpie Agera who unfortunatly is still injured and we havn’t done any agility with her for almost two weeks. I hope that we can start with her weaving again on Monday.

We ran the opening (1-7) of this course today:

This is a course that I got from a friends blog and some other people with blogs have also been running it. People find a lot of serpentines in it that I don’t really agree with. 1-2 was a definate straight line, but Shejpa had trouble with it and wanted to go around the second jump. I have to work more on slices with her. I did a LOP at 3 and I’m not sure if the dogs went straight from 3-4. I think there was a slight turn for most of them. Missy tried to bounce 3-4 but had trouble with keeping both bars up when she did it. She was better when she put in an extra stride but it would be nice if she could bounce it and keep the bars up… We had a harder weave entry than above, the weaves were about two meters down and Missy had some trouble with hitting the entry. Maybe I should have used a threadle there. On the other hand, she did it well when I did the first four jumps with a toy placed at the first pole, so I guess it has more to do with value for weave entries…

5-6-7 is an obvious serpentine and Shejpa did it well. I don’t train a lot of weaves (the 6 sets of 2 annoys me and I’m waiting for my new set of weaves) but she was perfect with both entry and serp. Missy had some more trouble, mostly with keeping the bars up in she serp. She knocks about 98% of bars on the middle jump of a serp. Even in one jump work. Even on low jumps. I don’t really know what to do with it, but I think her jumping is improving in general. Missy is a superstar on jump grids, while Shejpa is to aroused and just throws herself. But when we run a sequence, the roles are reversed. I’m surprised and happy when Missy keeps a bar up, but when Shejpa knocks a bar, it’s usually something I did. Missy used to be a good jumper for her first months of sequencing and I can still see that she has a lot of talent. Maybe she just needs to do a lot of sequencing (and jump grids!).

We didn’t do the whole course today (I’m still waiting for my equipment to come from England. It should be here by now…) but a lot of people seem to be serping 7-8-9 and 9-10-11, but I think 8-9 and 10-11 is straight lines (or at least should be if the dog is turning well and reading the lines). I’ll have to set it up some time, but not today. I just entered Missy in an obedience trial three weeks from now and we have a lot of training to do.

Back chaining the stairs

We’re still having nice, warm weather and have been able to work outdoors a lot. We were out on the training field for hours on monday, dogs relaxing in their crates when they weren’t working. We did jump grids with Pavlov, Missy and Shejpa and Pi got to do some set point exercises in the Salo spider. She looked great and seems to have more confidence in jumping now. We also did some one jump exercises for the first time, just building value for one jump. She did good, but I wish she could be a little less thoughtful and just go 🙂

I have been training a lot of contacts the last days, especially with Shejpa. She was so good yesterday that I’m really looking forward to getting our contact equipment. I moved the stairs to a new piece of grass and she was perfect from the first repetition. She does all her nose touching without a target and I have backchained the stairs, but I don’t always let her drive down the whole set. It depends on what other challenges I give her. I work on different body positions for me and on different distractions. I found out that she’s really good at most things, but that I almost never have started her when I’m in front, so I’ll have to work on that.

Here are some nice pictures from Pi’s first birthday:

Time travelling, sequencing and an injured kelpie

We havn’t been able to do any more weave training with Agera since she got injured and had to rest, eat Rimadyl and ice her leg for the rest of the week. We took her to our vet today and her leg is much better, but she still can’t do any training for a few more days. Our vet gave her laser treatment and she get’s to swim in the pool during the weekend. Poor Agera and poor Nina. I hope she get’s well soon.

I was in Kirkenes (in the very north-east of Norway, close to the Russian border) yesterday. It was like travelling back in time – to february. They still had some snow on the ground and no leafs on the trees. I had a great time there, but I appreciate coming back to the warm sun and green leafs.

I did some sequencing with both Missy and Shejpa before I left for Kirkenes on wednesday. Karine and Helene came to our place and did some training. Karine set up a nice sequence with a pretty challenging weave entry. I did a LOP at 3, threadle 5-6 and rear crossed the poles. Missy only knocked two poles in her first run, wich is very good to be her. Shejpa was clean, fast and fun. Both dogs struggled with the poles some times. They had problems with bending back into the first gap coming with so much speed.

Today has been a day of conditioning for the dogs. They have been on walks in the woods, swimming and doing jump grids. I have added handler motion and some motivational talk to the jump grids and both dogs handled it better than I thought they would. I have to do some obedience tomorrow and I also really have to work on nose targeting on the stairs with both Missy and Shejpa. I’ll soon have my contact equipment and I want to be able to use it 🙂

Pi’s debut in obedience trials

Pi did her first obedienece trial today and did really well. Her biggest misstake was sitting all through the long down, wich takes 15 points off the finall score. The rest was fortunatly good enough and she really surprised me with being very focused and correct. I was kind of worried that she would get distracted and start looking at birds or sniffing the air, but she was a focused and very happy setter. We got second place and are our final score was good enough to send us to the next class. These were her scores (points are out of a maximum of 10):

Long down: 5 (x3)
Greeting the judge and showing teeth: 10 (x1)
Heel on leash: 8 (x4)
Drop from heel: 8 (x2)
Recall to heel: 9,5 (x3)
Stand from heel: 9,5 (x3)
Holding dumbell: 9 (there was a strange misunderstanding between me and the ring steward, as you can see in the video) (x1)
Recall over jump: 9 (x2)
Generall impression: 9 (x1)

Final score: 167/200 (if you get over 160 points, you can move on to the next class)

Weaving 2×2 Day 2

We’ve done the second day of training Agera to weave using Susan Garrett’s 2×2 method (though we might unknowingly do things that Susan wouldn’t). We’ve done three sessions of about three minutes each. I’m kind of frustrated about the lack of progress. Agera is making fewer misstakes, but has the same problem as we had yesterday. We’ve agreed to proceed anyway, since adding two more poles actually might make it easier for her. We’re going to Gothenburg tomorrow, so we’ll have to bring our 2x2s on the road.

Weaving 2×2 Day 1

Nina and Agera are living with us for five weeks and Nina is helping us out with all kinds of things. Agera is a really cool kelpie, about 16 months old. This is Agera’s first day of weaving. She caught on very quickly and did not make a misstake for the first two (1+3 minutes) sessions. I did have a feeling that when she made a misstake, she would fail and fail and not change. And that was exactly what happened in the second session when we finally gave her a challenge that she didn’t master. Nina did make it easier for her, back to a point where she had success before. But this was something Agera just had to work through and learn to change when there is no reward. She tried two different tactics before finally getting it right. And then she had no problems for the rest of the day. She failed once in the afternoon, but changed immediatly. I can’t wait to do day two!

Got my happy dog back

I’ve had an intense weekend with two days of teaching at home and then two days in Bergen (on the west coast of Norway). I flew home yesterday and have been pretty tired since I got home. The dogs are not tired at all (even though Nina has done a great job keeping them busy while I was away) and we have done some training today already. Pi is finally her self again after being in heat for the first time, wich really made her tired and easily distracted. I gave her most of last week off and now she’s back to normal (and our male dogs have started to calm down around her).

We also started to teach Nina’s kelpie Agera to weave today. The plan is to do 3 x 3 minutes of weaving every day for the two next weeks. Agera did 1 + 3 minutes this morning and caught on very fast. We couldn’t get her to fail once, but we didn’t do very hard things since it was her first time. When we planned the next session we made sure that we gave her more challenging entries and sure enough, she failed. And as I had thought, when she failed once, she had a hard time changing and being right again. She failed many times but did not stop trying and finally got it right. We finished with some easy ones and because of all the thinking and failing involved, the session was 13 minutes long. I hope that we can see her get that same, challenging entry tonight. We’re videotaping everything and I might show a clip tonight.

It was very obvious that it’s a great advantage to have a dog that is familiar with the one jump exercises when you start with the weaving (2x2s). Agera was sure of what to do right from the start!

Nina and Agera